The Daily Moth 5-15-2019

Alabama legislature passes near-total abortion ban; Nebraska farmer cuts off own leg with pocket knife; San Francisco bans facial recognition tech; Sean Berdy in Netflix’s “The Society”; guest #DeafBing: ASL Obstacle Course

Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, May 15. Ready for news?


Alabama legislature passes near-total abortion ban

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state and makes it a crime for doctors to attempt or conduct an abortion with a penalty of up to 99 years in prison.

The only exceptions for abortion would be if it poses a serious risk to the mother’s life, for ectopic pregnancies, or if the fetus has a lethal anomaly (missing a brain or cranium).

The Alabama House already approved this bill last month, so now it heads to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) for her signature.

If it becomes law, it will be challenged in court and likely blocked because it would violate a 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade, that legalized abortion for the first trimester and allowed states to make laws for the second trimester.

The person who drafted the bill is Eric Johnston, a conservative pro-life activist. He said it was his intention to have this abortion law and the upcoming court challenges go all the way to the Supreme Court for them to change the Roe v Wade ruling.

There were many abortion rights activists, pro-choice people, who protested against the Alabama legislators.

This is the most strict abortion bill in the country. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio have passed laws banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, but Alabama takes it further by banning almost all abortions and making it a crime for doctors.


Nebraska farmer cuts off own leg with pocket knife

A 63-year-old farmer from Nebraska, Kurt Kaser, cut off his left leg when it got pulled into a grain auger. This is a machine that has a tube with a large, screw-like interior.

Kaser told ABC News that in the winter, he had cut away a part of a safety screen to make it fit under a bin. Three weeks ago, he was filling a bin and stepped on it, forgetting that the screen was gone, and the auger grabbed his foot.

There was nobody around and his phone was missing. He said his leg was being pulled in and shredded, so he had to think quickly. He grabbed his pocket knife with a blade of 3 to 4 inches and sawed his leg below his knee and got free.

He said it did not hurt because he had so much adrenaline. He then crawled about 200 feet to a shed where there was a phone. He called his son, who called 911. A helicopter came and transported him to a hospital.

He has gone through three weeks of rehabilitation and went back home on Friday. He will get a prosthetic limb.


San Francisco bans facial recognition tech

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban police or other agencies to use facial recognition software. San Francisco is the first major American city to do this.

The New York Times explained that many police organizations across the country use this technology in their investigations. While it has helped to catch suspects, there are concerns about privacy and potential abuse because governments could track people as they move throughout the city.

There is a debate on if the technology does more good than harm.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association said the ban would make it more difficult for them to investigate crime.

Police departments in Las Vegas, Orlando, San Diego, New York City, Boston, and Detroit use facial recognition technology.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses the technology in many airports and ports of entry.

The ACLU said they are concerned about wrongful arrests, pointing out that the technology shows bias by being better at identifying the gender of white men’s faces than the gender of darker-skinned or female faces. This could potentially lead to wrongful arrests of persons of color.

What do you think? Would you be comfortable with police using facial recognition technology in your community?


Sean Berdy in Netflix’s “The Society”

Netflix recently released a new TV series called, “The Society.” It is about a group of teenagers being mysteriously trapped in a city that looks like their actual city but their parents are not there. The teens struggle to survive. Sean Berdy, an actor known from "Switched At Birth”, is featured in this series with a major role as Sam Eliot, a Deaf brother of Campbell Eliot (another character) played by Toby Wallace.

I watched a few episodes, Berdy signed most of the times, but there were times that he used sim-com, or spoke for himself. Sam (Berdy’s character), in the TV show, seems to be the kind of person who tries to make peace with other teenagers during struggles. He is often with a small group of friends who sign with him occasionally. Sam does not seem like a leader, but more of a resilient and optimistic person and suffers a lot of rejection from his own brother, Campbell (in the show). From my observation based on the few episodes I watched, seems that Campbell is rejecting and oppressing Sam because perhaps he is deaf and gay.

This is a pretty big deal for our Deaf community that Berdy has a big role. This is also his big comeback after taking a long hiatus from acting. However, there is also a controversy about him having that role. The character, Sam, portrays as a gay teenager.

Deaf Queer Resource Center made a comment about this. DQRC said that it is incredibly rare for a deaf and gay character to be developed and mainstreamed in a major film. It is exciting, but also disappointing when a person who is not actually LGBTQ and is casted for this role. DQRC explained the importance of casting an actual LGBTQ and deaf actor for this kind of role because representation matters.

The Daily Moth reached out to Justin Jackerson, an actor, to explain about why representation matters.

JUSTIN JACKERSON: Lately, there’s been more improvement in representation in TV and movies when it comes to having LGBTQ characters. Many of those characters were depicted in positive light. Some of them were authentic. Now, we can identify a clear difference between two types of shows; there are shows where LGBTQ characters were taken on by actors who are not LGBTQ and there are shows where LGBTQ roles are taken on by authentic LGBTQ actors. We all can tell the difference between the two types of shows. Especially when the LGBTQ community watches, they can see the difference. The first type is much more real and comprehensive while the latter type is superficial. You know, LGBTQ people’s identities and life journeys have a multitude of layers of experiences. We have endured oppression, discrimination, repressed trauma and more. I could name a long list of things. So, to think you can just take on a role a LGBTQ person and act, it is not that simple. So, whenever you watch television and movies, authenticity matters. That’s my people. That’s who I’m being represented by. That’s why LGBTQ actors should be the ones taking on the LGBTQ roles.

Renca: We also reached out to Dickie Hearts, an openly gay actor, from “Tales of the City” TV show to share his thoughts.

[Image of Dickie Hearts]

”Congratulations to Sean Berdy for booking the role in Netflix’s The Society. That’s a huge deal and as a Deaf artist, I’m proud to support his work. That said, I do see a missed opportunity for authentic Deaf LGBTQ representation onscreen. The hearing LGBTQ community felt the same way when Disney cast a straight actor, Jack Whitehall, as its first major openly gay character in the upcoming film Jungle Cruise. And Darren Criss recently declared that as a straight actor, he would no longer take on gay roles. There is a reason for this: authenticity matters, now even more than before, and we all know there are great LGBTQ actors out there trying hard to find work. I will still be tuning in The Society and supporting Sean’s work.”

Thank you Justin and Dickie for sharing. We did try to reach out to Berdy's agent under IMDB and did not get an immediate response.

TIME magazine did an interview with Berdy and they followed up about Berdy’s bipolar disorder that he revealed on Twitter. He said he hid it for a long time and will not hide about it anymore.

TIME asked Berdy if there were any experiences of the character, Sam, that paralleled with his personal life. He explained that it did not as much because Berdy said that he can hear a little bit and have the ability to speak. He still did enjoy playing this role. Berdy mentioned that he appreciated the cast learning sign language quickly and immediately welcoming him in the group.

"The Society" is rated MA (Mature Adults) and it is available to watch on Netflix.

The Society:


guest #DeafBing: ASL Obstacle Course

Carolina K: Deaf Bing what?

Hey. What are you going to do for spring break?

Brian K: I haven’t decided.

Carolina: Me neither.



We’re talking about spring break.

Jennifer W: What will you do for spring break?

Brian K: I just told her I haven’t decided.

Jennifer W: Same as me.


That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!